Minto mine's life extension welcome news in Yukon

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Yukon contractors are "pretty excited" that the territory's only operating hard rock mine will likely stay open for a few more years. 

Capstone's Minto mine, near Pelly Crossing, was expected to go into care and maintenance mode later this year, but this week the company announced it would keep mining at the site until at least 2020.

Pelly Construction, the mine's main contractor for over 22 years, has 70 people working at Minto. Those workers were only expecting to work until the end of June, to finish up work at an open pit deposit.

But a recent upswing in copper prices is making Minto viable again.

Jennifer Byram, vice president of community affairs for Pelly Construction, says the news from Capstone couldn't have come at a better time.

"[We're] just celebrating our 30 years in operation as Pelly Construction, and having 22 years being at Minto mine. That mine influenced us a great deal, so we are pretty excited that we get to stay there 'til 2020," Byram said.

Pelly Construction is involved in all the surface mining and construction at Minto, including blasting, hauling ore to the mill, and removing waste rock.

Byram says the majority of her company's employees are from the Yukon. 

Government 'very pleased'

Samson Hartland, executive director of Yukon Chamber of Mines, also welcomes the news. He says the 306 workers at the mine — 144 Minto employees and 162 contract employees — help Yukon's economy.

"Not only are people employed by the mine, but [there are] the contractors, the service and supply companies that provide goods and services to the mine," Hartland said.

"You've got the Selkirk First Nation — given that the mine is located on category A settlement land, the resource royalties flow directly to that First Nation."

Yukon's Energy Mines and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai agrees that the mine benefits the community and the territory as a whole. 

"We are very pleased that Capstone's Minto mine plans to continue production for another 3 years, and hopefully beyond 2020," Pillai said. 

Government officials are now reviewing plans for Capstone to mine additional areas on the Minto Property. 

That review includes consultation with the Selkirk First Nation.